Monday, January 3, 2011

Grief Revisited

The cemetery sexton had called just before Christmas.  Marc's headstone was complete.  With the holidays just a day or two away I decided to just delay our visit until things weren't so hectic.  Christmas came and went.  So did the New Year holiday.  I decided that today would be the day.  We would go visit. 

Interestingly, the kids were very much excited to go.  They had been asking to go for weeks and were often frustrated that the marker wasn't finished.  I think they wanted to make sure that Dad was being well cared for.   I think, too,  they continue to struggle with an earthly connection to him and visiting the cemetery is an tangible way to be near and to reflect.  As much as we talk about Daddy not being here on earth, but in heaven, I don't think it always makes sense to them.  At 39 I can't always grasp all of this, so expecting them at such a young age to understand it is probably an unrealistic expectation on my part. 

We headed out in late afternoon.  As Marc had predicted, it was beautiful up there.  It was snowy and quiet and we arrived just as the sun was starting to go down behind the trees.  The trees are bare and we could see the cattle in the next field.  Marc would have loved it.  We found the stone and it was perfect.  They did a nice job on it.  I had a bit of a reality check seeing my own name engraved next to Marc's.  Nothing like feeling a bit vulnerable emotionally and having mortality staring you in the face.  Just more to ponder.

The kids were reassured that Dad was, indeed, taken care of and proceeded to play tag amongst the headstones.  Totally disrespectful, I suppose, but a forgivable offense in my eyes.  They wound down and eventually started roaming through and reading the stones.  They marvelled at how old some of them were and at the number of family plots.  They had a lot of great questions and we spent a long time just talking. 

As I found myself in a moment of tears, I found a grave marker that touched my heart.   The epitaph totally summed up how I was feeling and it seemed strangely familiar.  Oddly, for the second time at that cemetery, I just had to look around and not feel lonely.  For every stone there are numerous loved ones grieving.  We don't corner the market on grief.  It is timeless.  It finds us all at some point.  I am just grateful for the hope that I have in the Savior that provides me a way out of all of this.  I do get to see Marc again.  And, while I struggle -- like my kids -- for some earthly connection to Marc, I know that this isn't it.   My grief is temporary, my joy will be eternal. 

A pretty sunset.  Marc would have loved this view. 


 This marker touched my heart with its timeless truth.

I later came home and scavenged some things I had read years ago.  I found this and was startled by the expanded thoughts in this poem.  Perhaps this was a familiar poem a hundred years ago and was used often on epitaphs.  I don't know.  I do know that this mother expands on this simple statement and sums up my thoughts today. Cheering thoughts, indeed! Enjoy.


MOTHERS CHEERING THOUGHT
OVER THE GRAVE OF HER INFANT CHILD.

The race is run, the spirit has fled,
My babe is numbered with the dead;
Yet though on earth she's now no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.

My darling babe has passed away,
Up to the realms of endless day;
Her stay with us on earth is o'er,
She is not lost, but gone before.

A little while she lingered here;
Her presence did her parents cheer;
Then Jordan's flood she crossed o'er,
She Is not dead, but gone before.


With Jesus now she is at rest,
Folded for ever to his breast;
Sorrow and pain she'll know no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.

In yonder glorious realms of light,
Methinks I see her spirit bright;
Before the throne the Lamb adore,
She is not lost, but gone before.


With Seraphim, and Cherubim,
Sweetly she joins the solemn hymn;
Her God and Saviour to adore.
She is not lost, but gone before.


Blest be the Saviour, who did give
His life, that little ones might live;
And praise his name for evermore.
They are not lost, but gone before.

The blow to us indeed is great.
We feel as if our hearts would break;
Yet though we see our child no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.


Oh, may we meekly bow to Thee,
Who hath in thy all-wise decree,
Blighted our hopes for evermore,
In one not lost, but gone before.

Keen are the pangs, oh, Lord, we feel,
Yet Jesus, thou, our wounds can heal,
And bid us weep for one, no more,
Who is not lost, but gone before.


Bid us now by faith to rise,
And view beyond the azure skies
The blood-washed throng, who all
adore The Lamb, with her that's gone before.

From her mother's arms thou call'dst away,
Up to the realms of endless day,
To dwell with thee for evermore,
My child, she is but gone before.
One sabbath morn she went to rest;
With saints and angels now she's blest:
Has reach'd in peace the blissful shore,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Then join my soul and sing the love.
That took from thee thy harmless dove;
Sent angels from yon radiant shore
To take her home, she's gone before.

And now She's numbered with the dead,
Up to her native skies she's fled;
The cross for her the Saviour bore,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Low in the dust her body lies.
Yet at the last great day shall rise;
Her dust the Saviour watches o'er,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Soon, my babe, I hope to meet,
And cast my crown at Jesus' feet ;•
Oh! may I reach yon heavenly shore,
And find thou art but gone before.

Ah! very soon and we must die!
But, if the Saviour then is nigh,
He'll lead us safely Jordan o'er.
To meet the ransomed gone before.

Oh! prepare us, dearest Lord!
Wash us in thy precious blood!
And, at last, when time is o'er,
Receive us Lord, to part no more.

Then we'll shout, the Lord victorious!
Hallelujah! thou art glorious!
Join in praise the heavenly host!
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

K. Hollis
London, February, 1859.


1 comment:

  1. That is a beautiful poem...not lost, but gone before...your background picture emphasizes the "realms of endless day"...looking forward to that! That must be a reality check to see your name on a gravestone. I'm glad you found a beautiful spot. I pray for comfort in these thoughts.

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